Positive impact of Chevron fire

Richmond-refinery fire spurred landmark responses

More than a year has passed since the fire that destroyed part of Chevron’s oil refinery in Richmond, but its effects are still being felt—some of them positive.

For instance, in the aftermath of the blaze—which occurred on Aug. 6, 2012, producing a thick plume of gas and smoke that sent about 15,000 Richmond-area residents to the hospital for respiratory issues—the first-ever full-scale federal investigation of a refinery accident in the Bay Area was conducted (by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board), according to the Contra Costa Times.

Other firsts include Cal/OSHA fining Chevron $963,000, the largest fine ever issued by the agency, as well as the city of Richmond suing the oil company, “its biggest taxpayer, alleging damages from Chevron’s negligence,” on Aug. 2.

Additionally, the latest state budget includes funding—paid by oil refineries—to increase the number of state inspectors to 26 from only seven.

“The lasting change we think we’ll see are more inspectors and better regulations requiring safer technologies and testing,” said Daniel Horowitz, managing director of the Chemical Safety Board.